July 28, 2011

Plum Medley

If you don't know by now...it is PEACH, PLUM, NECTARINE season...which consequently means tarts and cobblers. If you live in Berkeley or San Francisco you should look UP while walking down the street, you might be surprised at how many plum trees could be living around your neighborhood.

That said, I decided to make a tart-obbler for my two friends by toying around with this plum cobbler recipe I found.  I used the cobbler topping as the base for this "tart" and added more cinnamon into the fruit medley and left out the ginger.

Four types of local peaches and plums from Bi-rite in SF

A dirt-covered local-organic egg

 Easy, delicious, local-friendly dessert for a summer day

June 14, 2011


This is probably the best location in SLO for a beautiful brunch, lunch or dinner on a summer day. Novo supports seasonal produce and their prime location in the Central Coast region makes their menu rich with diversity and flavor.

I had brunch at Novo, in their outside patio, which is their best seating area. Their patio has views of the San Luis Creek and lush greenery that surrounds it. I ordered a Greyhound with fresh grapefruit juice, a suggestion by our waitress, it was perfectly bitter and sweet and of course fresh.

For brunch I had their grilled salmon salad with spring greens, perfectly roasted beets, vine-ripened tomatoes, crumbled bleu cheese, caramelized pecans with a raspberry vinaigrette. The pecans balance out the blue cheese and the raspberrry vinagrette brings the entire dish together. Their salmon is farmed, which in my opinion, is better than wild-caught salmon (because of the deplition of wild fish)

Next on the menu, Sirloin on ciabatta, perfectly cooked, soft, sliced thin with horseradish cheddar, red onion, lettuce and dijon aioli. It was served with a cup of tortilla soup and avocado.
I'll let the picture speak for itself...

So if you like a delicious, local meal served in a beautiful patio, Novo is your next stop.

Bon Appetit!

June 3, 2011

SLO weekend

I took a little vacation to a small town, a town with some delicious food, beautiful views, miles of fertile soil and plenty of beaches to choose from. So if you ever find yourself away from the Bay and decide to head south to San Luis Obispo, these are a few of their best spots.

Whether you are into breakfast, brunch or an early lunch Big Sky Cafe has a menu that will probably make you ask your waiter for a little more time, chef and owner Charles Myers is comitted to using local ingredients in every dish and his menu changes with the seasons.

I  had their Pesto Chicken Sausage Scramble tossed with roasted bell peppers and fresh spinach, the smoky chicken sausage brings all the flavors together. This scramble also includes seasonal fruit and one of their daily pastries ( I got the Ginger-Coffee Cake)

My friend ordered the Traditional New Mexican Pozole, and I must say this dish truly tasted like the real thing.This spicy hominy stew came with a poached egg on cornbread with queso fresco and seared pork...a perfect balance of cilantro and cumin and a delicious meaty taste without overpowering the egg and cornbread.
My other suggestion is the Kreuzberg Cafe. This Cafe's name is based on the Kreuzberg neighborhood in Berlin next to where the Berlin wall used to stand. Today, it’s the creative and cultural heart of the city; and this little coffee shop does a little of  the same with walls full of books you can pick up, read and buy...

One of their most unique products was the Honey-processed Coffee which is the most environmentally friendly way today to process cofeee. This means there is zero water used. Not a single drop is wasted for pulping, washing or fermenting! (Compare this to traditional traditional washed method wich uses around 2000 liters per bag of green beans )
Honey-processed coffee is very light and sweet, there is a small after-taste but it is not coffee-like, to me it was more like a tea-after taste, with an aroma more than a taste.
Kreuzberg also surprised me with their bottled 
drink selection, ranging from old-school cream sodas to  BOXED WATER

 I think I will leave you with these two spots for now....MORE TO COME!

May 24, 2011


  Although this little cafe is located in North Berkeley it has a unique style, far different from other North Berkeley shops.With a funky, stylish and welcoming atmosphere paired with an ongoign array of  upbeat world music.

Their menu is simple: ranging from a pair of poached eggs with toast, savory polenta or (my favorite) their "waffle of the day".

Waffle of the Day
Cornmeal with creme fraiche: perfectly sweet, fluffy & hearty
 Guerilla Cafe uses local ingredients and serves Blue Bottle Coffee and although I usually drink my coffee black, Guerilla serves the best Au Lait in beautiful bowls (a meal on their own).
Blue Bottle Three Africans Blend Au Lait
 The uniqueness of Guerilla comes from their ongoing effort to support local artists and honor people around the world who have fought for freedom, their sacrifices and the courage to risk it all for their liberation. Whether you order a full breakfast or just a Latte, you will be given a little card with the history of a guerilla, a fighter, as your receipt, a nice way to feed your brain while waiting to feed your tummy!

April 17, 2011

Comfort Food with a twist

This is my second time at Aunt Mary's Cafe. It is a fairly  new spot which sits across Remedy in Oakland/Temescal area, a Ritual Coffee provider. There is always a crowd of people outside of this place, which cannot be a bad thing unless you're very very hungry!

This Cafe serves local, organic, sustainable food and seasonal ingredients whenever possible! The best part about this spot is the combination of thoughtful food with a thoughtful price!

Me and my roomates decided to share a few dishes....

First , the Huevos Benedictos (spicy) which  was a pair of cheddar masa cakes w/poached eggs & mole negro, served w/house-made Niman Ranch beef chorizo, guacamole & pico de gallo.

I must say that their mole had the perfect consitency; a perfect balance between creamy and grainy, it was spicy enough to give your mouth a tingle but it definitely did not over power the cheddar masa cakes. The masa cakes reminded me of Tamales without the corn husk wrapper...the combiniation of these cakes with the runny eggs and mole made them even more moist and savory....

Onto dish #2, the Spring Veg Hash with red pepper couli ....the hash was designed with seasonal veggies in mind including green beans, snap peas, asparagus, red potatoes & fennel and was topped with two poached eggs (you can order your eggs any style), the hash was then drizzled w/a puree of roasted red peppers and a biscuit...

This dish was very fresh, the veggies were cooked lightly which made them crunchy and very rich in flavour, the red pepper couli brought the dish together and the flaky biscuit made with Gusto's organic flour and cornmeal helped me scoop all the juices up!

Dish #3 was the sweet dish! (usually how I like my mornings to be), we ordered the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with a lemon curd and fresh strawberries... the ricotta in the pancake batter makes the pancakes a lot more moist and fluffy, it also gives the pancakes less of a sweet taste which is then balanced with the tangy and sweet lemon curd...

We shared these three dishes and added a side of grits and roasted potatoes...a few cups of some mean McLaughlin coffee with some Clover milk.

All this came out to around sixty dollars! which fed four people; bellies full and left overs for later!

From grits, to hashes, to mole and pancakes...if you are craving good food, I guarantee you will find something to please your palette at Aunt Marys Cafe!

April 14, 2011

Afternoon Scone

When I walk into a bakery that has freshly baked scones, it is hard for me NOT to buy one...but when it is 7pm and no bakeries are open, the only choice left is home-made scones!!

I decided to bake Cherry-Orange Scones...they were made with: organic whole wheat flour, organic almonds form Berkeley Bowl,  free range, organic eggs from Petaluma, dried cherries from Billy Bob Orchards, an orange from Guru Ram Das Orchards, Fair-Trade Brown suga ( expensive but worth it!), organic Clover whole milk, organic Clover butter and a touch of love...

I adapted my recipe from this original recipe, in case you want to make these yourself, but I encourage you  to explore and add your own touch!

These have a perfect balance between sweet, tart, hearty and flaky...
Easy to make, share and hard to dissappoint!

April 13, 2011

Verde, blanco y rojo

My roomate came home with some local Halibut from Zut and I was craving some Mexican food. The weather resembled a summer day with a breeze typical of the Bay...which reminded me of timeless days at the beach in Mexico where fish, beans and rice are always on the menu.

So we made organic brown rice (can't remember the name of the farm!) with organic black beans from Natural Value in Sacramento, a Haas Avocado and a freshly made Strawberry Salsa made with tomatoes,cilantro,serrano chile, onion and strawberries all from the Berkeley Farmers Market! Strawberry season has just arrived and although tomatoes are not easy to get Avalos Organic Farm stand has them both.

Oh yes and to counter the spiciness of the salsa...
I added a spoon-full of Straus Plain Yogurt

There is nothing like a home-made dinner with fresh ingredients grown around your community

Buen Provecho!

March 27, 2011

Summer Kitchen in the Spring

If you've ever walked down College Ave in Berkeley you know that every restaurant claims to be high-end, the best, at whatever they do. However, I can only say from experience that only a few of these spots are worth going to....

As I was waiting in line at Ici for an ice cream, I peeked into The Summer Kitchen and Bake Shop. This place prides itself in using as many local ingredients as possible, with a full pastry bar and a variety of sandwiches and fresh brick-oven pizzas... I had to try it!

I had a Blue Bottle Donovan dripped Coffee and a Walnut-Coffee Bread, this slice was thick, moist and perfectly sweet. (they use local walnuts and Blue Bottle Coffee in their recipe)
My friend had a Salted-Caramel short bread cookie...I think the picture captures the taste...

If you are not much of a sweet person, Summer Kitchen has pretty amazing lunches and dinners to choose from, this is their menu ...
 (I was told by another customer that their sandwiches are to die for and the scent of freshly baked pizza was mouth-watering)
 On the left: Organic Egg Salad with Chives and on the right: Diestel Turkey, Onion-Cranberry Marmalade, Provolone, Lemon Aioli, Poppy Seed Kaiser Bun 
Orzo Pasta Salad, Roasted Peppers, Feta Cheese, Pickled Onions 

Summer Kitchen has a great selection of dishes, desserts and packaged local goods like Happy Girl Kitchen pickled veggies and Blue Bottle Coffee... The people that work and eat here give this place a very warm and home-like atmosphere, I can't even imagine how much warmer it could be if it was only Summer! ah...


Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce, its name comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec dialect) word mulli or molli, "sauce" or "concoction". It is a very rich and flavorfull paste. This paste is a mixture of spices, chilli peppers and chocolate...between 20-30 different spices are used!

Depending on where you eat Mole around Mexico it will taste different...sometimes spicier sometimes more on the chocolate-side...

I recently had dinner at El Huarache Azteca where they make their own Mole paste from scratch and they serve it in the two most traditional ways, on top of a piece of chicken with rice and beans or poured over some Enchiladas (soft tortillas filled with chicken). Now this place might not fit exactly into our definition of "local" but it does stick to the traditional way of cooking this dish in Mexico and the restaurant is located in the heart of the Latino community in Oakland ( Fruitvale). In my opinion, some dishes just might need a touch of their home-country in order to taste as delicious as the original.

Enchiladas de Mole, served in the traditional way with some Arroz Mexicano and Frijoles Refritos, always topped with Crema (sour cream) and Queso Fresco

 These Enchiladas had more chocolate-flavour and were less spicy than other ones I've had, nonetheless they were as delicious as eating them in Puebla, Mexico. El Huarache Azteca sticks to traditional dishes, their menu ranges from Flautas and Tlacoyos to Pozole, Birria and Huaraches of course. So if you're in the mood for some REAL Mexican food, don't hesitate to stop by this little nook!

March 21, 2011

Forget the milk, Bittersweet !

A cup of coffee...or a cup of hot chocolate...or perhaps both?
Maybe it's the everchanging weather in the past few days that has got me changing my morning beverage preferences but I shall not complain...
I visited Bittersweet Cafe this morning and decided to start with an Americano and a Morning Glory Muffin...

The muffin was as moist as a bran muffin can get, with delicious golden raisins and a very hearty texture

As I sipped on my coffee ( which is roasted at this very location), I couldnt help but be surrounded by the smell of chocolate...Bittersweet's main attraction. They have a variety of  truffles and chocolate bars, which are also made right behind the counter! Lets not forget that all their cacao is sourced from single farms and cooperatives and are organic of course! (this is the link to the specifics of the farms they use)

So the scent of chocolate brought me back to the counter...What would it be? Salted caramel hot chocolate?  hmmm I decided on the Spicy Hot Chocolate...infused with a cayanne dark chocolate ganache, this is one of their more bitter hot chocolates.

Two drinks, one pastry and a lot of samples... Chocolate crave:SATISFIED

Oh yes! They also had samples of one of their sandwiches:

 Black Forest Ham with Brie, Pepper Jam and Dijon on fresh Ciabatta...I must confess...I don't eat pork but THIS sample almost made me change my mind.

So if you're in the mood for a hot chocolate...or a truffle...or a milk shake...or perhaps you want a light lunch, Bittersweet Cafe has a little bit of everything coming out of their kitchen!